Monday 9 April 2012

A three-star bore

The surge-wave of the bore comes round the corner towards us.
 There are plenty of bores in horticulture, but this morning we chose to go to see another sort of bore - the surge-wave that dashes up the River Severn on about 60 days a year, when tide conditions are right. The Severn bore is the biggest in Britain, and one of the largest in the world, caused by the huge tidal range in the estuary and its rapid narrowing into a funnel, thus causing the water to rise rapidly and move upstream in a great fast surge. The biggest bores, which are rated with one to five stars, occur at the time of the Spring spring tides, which have occurred this weekend.

The bore passes on upstream.

We chose to watch from the Severn Footpath near Weir Green, at a point where we had clear views down- and upstream. The tide tables published online suggested that the bore should arrive at about 10.45, but it was about ten minutes after this time that the first plume of spray was visible above the bank beyond the bend: then it became visible as a bulge in the water height, rather than as a peaked wave. The main visual effects came from the rush of water up the banks and the spray that it generated. The water moved at an  astonishing speed and behind it came the full tide, filing up the channel and bearing large rafts of debris upstream at a smart lick. Carried along with it too was a swan, which sailed by making small plaintive noises, though we later saw it had managed to get into slacker water by the bank.

Despite the grey wet day it was an amazing experience, and highly recommendable. Numerous websites give details, but this one is particularly helpful. The next three-star bore is due, conveniently, on 7 May, the next Bank Holiday, but will occur in the evening.

Along the riverbank were a number of the magnificent old fruit trees that the Severn valley is famous for, relicts of ancient orchards.  A group of enormous pear trees was particularly remarkable, but close inspection showed them all to be rotten through and through, though bearing healthy crowns. The sad thing is that there are no replacements whatsoever in these sites, so once the old trees go that will be it - a loss of beauty and agricultural heritage.

A group of huge old pear trees near Weir Green.

Gnarled but still vigorous: one of the old pear trees.


  1. Very fond memories of this when I lived in Glos, thanks for sharing.

  2. I have watched the tidal bore near Anchorage (Alaska): no matter how modest, they are never "bore"-ing in MY opinion! Those gnarly pears remind me Browning wrote "Oh to be in England now that April's there!" Some of the most magical days in my life have transpired in England, in April!


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